Vestas are returning to the Volvo Ocean Race for a second consecutive edition, after launching their 2017-18 campaign in partnership with 11th Hour Racing at simultaneous events in Newport, Rhode Island and Aarhus – where it was also announced that the fleet will make a ‘fly by’ of the Danish city on the final leg. Vestas 11th Hour Racing will be led by the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill.
The team are the fourth to announce for the upcoming edition, which begins on 22 October, and they will use the race to promote a sustainability message around the world. Enright and Towill had their first Volvo Ocean Race experience as skipper and Team Director of Team Alvimedica in 2014-15.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Enright. “We’ve achieved a strong collective of sponsors, and the boat has now been refitted and branded in Lisbon, waiting for us to get over there and get it out on the water.
“We’re working hard on building a competitive team ahead of the race, and have a couple of transatlantic sailings lined up for April and May.” The Vestas 11th Hour Racing campaign is a unique platform for Vestas to promote its vision, which is to be the global leader in sustainable energy solutions.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is a proven platform for Vestas and a unique strategic fit to promote our new vision and market-leading energy solutions in our key markets and engage with customers,” said Vestas President and CEO Anders Runevad. It’s also an ideal fit for 11th Hour Racing, a programme of The Schmidt Family Foundation which establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing and marine communities to promote systemic change for the health of our marine environment.
“Our partnership with 11th Hour Racing sends a very strong signal with two leading players within sustainability combining forces to promote sustainable solutions within wind and water,” added Runevad.
Wendy Schmidt, 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder and President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, said: “Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us. Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet.”
Vestas competed in 2014-15 as Team Vestas Wind – running aground on Leg 2 and rebuilding the boat against all odds to make a landmark return in Lisbon at the start of Leg 8. This is only the second time in the Race’s history, and the first since 1993-94, that three major team sponsors have returned for a second consecutive Race – with Vestas, Dongfeng and MAPFRE all back on the start line.
Team AkzoNobel take the total number of confirmed teams to four with seven months still to go to the start of the race. The Volvo Ocean Race also revealed that a mark of the course will ensure the fleet will sail close to Dokk1 in Aarhus on the final leg of the 2017-18 race between Gothenburg and The Hague – giving the people of the city a great view of the competing teams on their One Design Volvo Ocean 65s.
“The teams will be on their final leg after racing 45,000 miles and to round the mark off Aarhus will be a great challenge for the fleet, who I’m sure will receive a welcome boost from the Danish public,” said Mark Turner, Volvo Ocean Race CEO. “Denmark has a great history with this race already and today another chapter is written as Aarhus is added to the course.”
Twenty-five Danish sailors have competed in the race to date and two teams have raced under the Danish flag – SAS Baia Viking in 1985-86 and Team Vestas Wind in 2014-15. Vestas 11th Hour Racing will sail under Danish and American flags.
"This will be a great experience for visitors and citizens alike – and will bring wide international attention to Aarhus that will benefit the city's growth and development," said Aarhus Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard. The teams will depart Alicante on 22 October and race 45,000 nautical miles around the world with stops at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.
The One Design concept has reduced the need for campaigns to announce as early as in previous editions and there is no reason why a campaign getting off the ground this summer can't go on and win the trophy. • 3/17
‘Ñetifans’ around the world can start working on new banners after MAPFRE announced Antonio "Ñeti" Cuervas-Mons as the third member of their team for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. Ñeti, the 35-year-old from Santander in the north of Spain, will be taking part in the race for the fourth successive edition.
He made his debut on Telefónica Black in 2008-09 and returned with Telefónica in 2011-12 and MAPFRE in 2014-15. In each of those races, he’s sailed alongside Xabi Fernández and the skipper for 2017-18 is delighted to have him back as both bowman and boat captain.
So impressed is Xabi with his countryman’s resourcefulness that he refers to him as a ‘MacGyver’, in reference to the cult TV character who always seemed to find an ingenious fix for any problem. “Ñeti is a very good and multi-skilled sailor,” said Xabi.
“This will be our fourth edition on the same team and I look forward to working with him again.” Ñeti is also famous in Spain for the group of ‘Ñetifans’ who follow him around the world cheering their support.
"I am really pleased to be involved in the Volvo Ocean Race again,” said Nēti. “Our main focus now is to start preparing the boat, choose a good crew and make sure the team is in the best possible position come October.
“The objective is to always be on the podium because we know perfectly well, because we went through it, that you can pay a high price for a problem on even a single leg.” • 3/17
Jérémie Beyou, fresh from his third place in the Vendée Globe, will swap solo sailing for the sport’s toughest team challenge, after the Frenchman was announced as part of a trio of world-class sailors joining Dongfeng Race team for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.
Beyou joins two other vastly experienced offshore sailors in New Zealand’s Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang to complete the first batch of crew to join the Chinese campaign following months of trials and intense testing by skipper Charles Caudrelier.
Bannatyne, a seven-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran with three wins under his belt, and Wislang, who has competed three times and lifted the trophy with Abu Dhabi in 2014-15, know all too well just what it takes to be competitive in sailing’s leading offshore challenge.
But Beyou, a 40-year-old, three-time Solitaire du Figaro winner from Larmor-Plage in Brittany, who is used to racing around the world alone on his Open 60, Maître Coq, recognises that life onboard will be a very different experience for him.
“I will have to get used to being one of a team of sailors on board,” he said. “It’s a really exciting challenge. We have high expectations for a result in this race and we have exactly what we need to do well.
“Dongfeng is an interesting team because we have people of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds – people from single-handed racing, from dinghy racing and veterans of the Volvo. There is a great spirit on board and everyone is helping each other – it’s a great feeling.”
Caudrelier, who skippered Dongfeng Race Team to a podium finish in 2014-15, believes that the depth of experience held by Beyou, Wislang and Bannatyne across multiple offshore sailing disciplines will combine well with his Chinese and international squad to form a powerful racing team. “You could not ask for more in terms of experience and miles under the keel,” said Caudrelier.
“In Stu and Daryl we have two of New Zealand’s very best offshore racers who know the Volvo Ocean Race inside out. Jérémie may be new to the race, but we are delighted to give him this opportunity and I have huge respect for what he has achieved. In a one-design fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s, having specialist Figaro sailors like him on board is invaluable.”
Caudrelier revealed that Wislang will be a watch captain on Dongfeng. Both Beyou and Bannatyne will sail during the race, with Bannatyne likely to be on board for the main Southern Ocean legs. “Daryl is a proven offshore warrior,” said the skipper.
“Stu has so much experience to share – especially with our younger sailors – and Jérémie is eager to learn about, what for him, is a new challenge.” Bannatyne first sailed it in 1993-94 onboard New Zealand Endeavour and his love for Southern Ocean is as strong as ever.
“The big thing with the Volvo Ocean Race for me is the fast downwind sailing, having no bottom mark to worry about going around, and then of course the camaraderie of the team,” he said.
“And I love being offshore and trying to get the best out of the boat. Wislang is eager to continue his “love affair” with the race – and is particularly looking forward to sailing with Caudrelier.
“I’ve always had a lot of time for Charles and I know what he did with Dongfeng last time and how good a skipper and team leader he is,” said Wislang. The team is currently settling into its permanent base at Lorient in Brittany after delivering its newly-refitted Volvo Ocean 65 there from Lisbon last week. Further crew announcements will be made in the next few weeks. • 3/17
Southern Spars, the world’s leading carbon fibre spar manufacturer, will be the official supplier of the full rig package for the One Design Volvo Ocean 65 fleet for a second consecutive race, a move that strengthens the Auckland-based company’s historic ties with sailing’s toughest team challenge.
Southern Spars have been supplying spars to Volvo Ocean Race podium finishers since 1989-90 when Sir Peter Blake secured a commanding victory on Steinlager 2.
They will again supply the high modulus masts, high modulus racing box boom and a full EC6 bundled carbon fibre rod rigging package with deflected backstays for the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet.
The Volvo Ocean 65 masts measure 30.30m (99.4 ft) – about the same height as a 10-storey building. The mast is one of the most dynamic and complex components on a Volvo Ocean 65 as it transfers all of the power generated by the wind and sails to the boat.
Within one-design rules, all 10 rigs (for the eight Volvo Ocean 65s, plus two spares) must be identical in terms of dimensions, weight and stiffness. Southern Spars’ robust production processes guarantee this. • 3/17